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SCANDIA : Tidskrift for historisk forskning


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Some notes on


social and economic


of the Swedish tenants in


XIIllth century*

T h i s a r t i c l e a i m s a t c o n t r i b u t i n g to the analysis of o n e of t h e m o s t difficult p r o b l e m s of t h e S w e d i s h h i s t o r y of t h e e a r l y M i d d l e Ages, i.e. t o t h a t of t h e e c o n o m i c a n d social s i t u a t i o n of t e n a n t s

[landbor) in t h i s c o u n t r y .

The very limited space being at the author's disposal does not allow him even to mention all the questions, connected with the problem he is dealing with and to quote all the necessary evidence for supporting his opinions. These are presented in his book, Studia nad rozwojem struktury spoleczno-gospodarczej wczesnos'redniowiecznej Szwecji (do konca XI11 W . ) , (Studies of the develop-

ment of the social and economic structure of the early-mediaeval Swedish society until the end of the XIIIth c e n t ~ ~ r y ) , which is now in print (in Polish). This article consists of some fragments of the IVth chapter of the mentioned book. The preliminary draft of the author's views has already been published in his article, Z zagadnied ksztalowania sie feudalizmu w Szwecji do kohca XI11 W .


Perspektywy i wnioski badawcze, (Some questions concerning the origin of

" In recent years Polish and even Soviet historians have paid a good

deal of attention t o t h e economic and social historv of t h e earlv Middle Ages. Developments i n Scandinavia and especially in Sweden have been t h e subject of research by, among others, D r . Stanisiaw Piekarczyk, of Warsaw. I n a recent lecture t o t h e Lund Iqistorical Society, Dr. Piekarczyk presented some of t h e results of his research into t h e economic and social history of Sweden in t h e early Middle Ages. His lecture gives a good in- sight into h o w a representative of present-day historical research i n Poland approaches these problems


problems with which Scandinavian historians have long been concerned - and shows w h a t results are obtained by such a n approach. Since D r . Piekarczyk's work forms a contribution t o t h e dis- cussion which has been going o n in Sweden f o r a long time about these very questions, t h e editors of Scandia consider it of importance for Scan- dinavian historians t o acquaint themselves with t h e views p u t forward and t h e methods used in D r . Piekarczyk's lecture. THE EDITOR


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XIIIth century I 97

As is well known the recent Swedish mediaevalists attempt co

"europeanize" the early mediaeval history of their country by point- ing a t the analogies between i t and the development in continental Europe. Suggestion for example as to the similarities in the economic situation of the Swedish thralls and that of serfs I:livegna), and in the role both have played in the development of the respective

countries, made already some 20 years ago" finds support in recent

research" although the internal, economic and social sources 0'

thralldom during the period of the Viking expansic~n and thereafter

have not been studied as yet. Such studies seem to be inevitable, if

one really wants to make any comparison in this questi0n.l Other

feudalism in Sweden until the end of the XIIIth century


research's plans and propositions), Kwartalnik Historyczny, vol. 66, No. 3, Instytut Historii Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Warszawa 1959, p. 780-821. Since the present article is

destined chiefly for Scandinavian readers, it does not contain any translation into English of the ancient Swedish law-texts, quoted from D. H . S. COLLIN'S

& C. J. SCHLYTER'S edition, providing the author's interpretation of them agrees with that of A. HOLMBACK AND E. WESSEN, Svenska landskapslagar, tolkade och

forklarade for nutidens svenskar, vol. I-V, Stockholm 1933-1946.

L F. ex. S. BOLIN, Scandinavia, The Cambridge economic history of Europe

from the decline of the Roman Empire, vol. I, The agrarian life of the middle ages, ed. by J. H. CLAPHEN & L. POWER, Cambridge 1942, p. ,487

C.-G. AXDRIE, Kyrka och fralse under aldre medeltid, Studia Historica Upsaliensia, vol. IV, Uppsala 1960, p. 94 ff.

.I It is evident that even in the period of the Viking-expansion, i.e. in the time when the import of foreign thralls was a t its greatest, there were in Scandinavian countries also those of domestic origin. RIMBERTUS, Vita Anskarii, cap. 15 and 36, writes about not only Slavonic but also Norman (Danish) boys bought by the missionary t o be used ill his work. The endless wars between several Viking chiefs (hovdingar) opened possibilities for them t o capture thralls even in the Scandinavian regions. Scandinavian kings, whose authority was very weak in the Viking-time, could not prevent their hovdingar from doing this. I t has been confirmed by ADAMUS O F BREMEN, Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum, ed. 6 . H . PERTZ, IV, cap. 6, when h~e wrote about the Danish Vikings who were paying "tributum" t o their kings for obtaining per- mission t o capure thralls in foreign lands. Such permissions were, however, used by them "in suos" and the thralls were sold by the Vikings "vel socio vel barbaro". It is very likely that the situation in Sweden also was very similar io that described by Adamus. Even such late sources as the Swedish provincial laws: OgL VmB 30,


I ; UL KmB 3, prol. SdmL KmB 3, prol; VmL KmB 4 contain prohibition of trade with thralls, and free people respectively. Such


I 9 4

Stanislaw Piekarczyk

authors stress5 that even in the early Middle Ages there was in Sweden a landlord-class, the existence of which was not accepted by the scholars of an older generation. I t has also been pointed out that the known forms of division of land (skifte) among the in- habitants of a village most likely are not to be considered as survivals of any extension of the village's common lands (allmanning) over the total territory of it, especially over the fields already under cultiva- tion by individual^.^ The most recent research suggested that the last form of this division (solskifte) was performed in the interest of the great landowners.:

However, as far as the social situation of the landbor is concerned even the most recent works8 share in principle the opinion of the historians from the end of the XIXth century a t leastg that the Swedish landbo was personally free and that the authority which the landowner exercised over him was only very limited, though these phenomena and their causes never became an object of modern studies.

The consequence of such an opinion of the social situation of land- bor is in fact a direct negation of the feudalism in Sweden.lo This

repetition of the said provisions was presumably caused by the facts occurring up till the beginning of the XIVth century.

V. ex. F. DovRrNc, Agrarhistorisk forskning och svensk medeltidshistoria, (cit. Agrarhistorisk forskning) HT, vol. 73, Stockholm 1953, p. 388, and ANDRE, op. cit., p. 85 ff.

G G. HAFSTROM, "Hammarskipt", Skrifter utgivna av Institutet for rattshisto-

risk forskning, sartryck ur serien 11, b. x, Lund 1951, p . 155ff. See also DOVRING'S remarks, op. cit. p. 401.

5 F. DOVRING, Attungen och marklandet, Studier over agrara forhillanden

i medeltidens Sverige, Lund 1947, p. 165 f f . (cit. Attungen). DOVRING, however, did not use all the indications, which can be found in the provincial laws, for supporting his opinion.

ANDRE, op. cit., p. 101 ff.


ex. A. ASTROM, Om svensk jordaganderatt, Stockholm 1897, p. 164, and

L. BEAUCHET, Histoire de la propriCtC fonci6re en SuCde, Paris 1904, p. 655 ff.

' O As far as it is known to us the only Swedish historian who consequently

was of the opinion that feudalism existed in Sweden, was P. NYSTROM, Land-

skapslagarna, Ateneum, vol. 2, No. 2, Lund 1944, p. 85 ff, and Avelgirdsprojek-

tet 1555-56, nigra anteckningar, Scandia, vol. g, Lund 1936, p. 234. Nystrom, however, could not prove his opinion in a satisfactory way.


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XIIIth century


country should then have known the impacts of feudalism only in its political and cultural life.ll

In the light of the above i t is evident that an analysis of the social situation of the Swedish tenants is of a great importance for studies of the social and economic structure of Swedish society in the early Middle Ages.


contribution to the solution of the very difficult question of the economic situation of the landbor in earlier times can also facilitate further discussion about the so-called '"agrarian crisis" in the late Middle Ages, which should have caused changes in the economic position of the landbor. Those changes, however, could be known only if the original condition of the landbor were establish- ed as exactly as possible.

I t cat1 be said in general that in the time under consideration the landbor should have had a worse economic situation than even the poorest peasants (bonder), because the former besides public bur- dens and those in the church's favour, were obliged to give the rent to their landowners, while the latter only had t o give the tithe and taxes to the state.12 I t is therefore t o be taken for granted t h a t the chapter (flock) of the Sodermannalagen reflects the real situation of that time, when i t mentions poverty as the most important reason why the landbo was not able to hold a farm and desired to leave it1"

The most characteristic feature of the landbors' duties was that even in the earliest times, a t least as far back as i t is known to us on the basis of the existing sources, their rent was strictly fixed. This feature


we shall come back to the analysis of their economic and social causes later on


enables us to study the ecoinomic situation of


I' It is, however, very difficult to understand in what way feudalism could

have had an "influence" on Sweden, if the development of this country would not make it possible an acceptance of such.


' It is of no importance, whether in the period under consideration there

were in Sweden real taxes or only some personal duties. These last were on the way to become natural or financial burdens.

l 3 SdmL JB 11, prol.: "Nv can landboa fatijet h e n d e giter ei bole vppi


. . .".

See also VgL I1 UgB 25; FnB 51; OgL BB Q, 2 ; UI, JB 10; VmL JB

prol.; SdmL JB 10,


I; HL JB 10,


I; These


provide for punishments

in the case when landbor did not give their rents in the due time. It is very likely that they simply were not able to give them.




Stanisiaw Piekarczyk

the members of that social group. This situation depended first of all upon the relation between the height of rent a landbo lzad to give

and the total production of the farm he cultivated. I t is not necessary

to point out that this relation was of great importance for the division of the total national income and consequently for the social and economic development of the whole country.

The problem of the height of the landbors' rent has recently been studied by F. Dovring l%nd partly by G. Hafstrom.ls Neither historian did, however, aim a t establishing the relation we just men- tioned, but only that between the seed used on a certain amount of land and the rent a landbo had to give from it. They have come to the conclusion that in the early Middle Ages this rent was approxi- mately as high as the quantity of seed necessary to be sown on the field a landbo cultivated.16 Let us study the method both scholars have applied in their research.

Dovring based his views on sources from as late as the XVIth and XVIIth centuries, mostly ecclesiastical cadasters, which contain several data about the agrarian life of the time. This material forms a basis for his retrogressive research. Hafstrom bases his views mostly upon certain provisions from the provincial laws.

I t is natural that the retrogressive method must be applied in

much research dealing with these questions, as there exist no contemporary sources or they are too scarce to give the necessary information. However, in all the cases when such a method must be applied i t is necessary to take into account all possible changes which could occur during the whole of the period investigated. As for Dovring's investigation, to such factors belongs first of all the development in agriculture, which might very well consist only in a more common use of the implement already known. W e might even suppose that a higher rent in absolute figures could be a smaller burden for the landbo, if his crop grew faster because of the develop- ment in agricultural technique. Unfortunately the author does not take this factor into consideration. What is worse, however, he does not take into consideration the changes in the economic and social

I-OVRING, Attungen.

l". HAFSTROM, Ledung och marklandsindelning, Uppsala 1949. This book

is important only for such Swedish provinces, where the division of cultivated land into parts corresponding to monetary units [marklandsindelning) has been introduced.


Social and econornic situation of the Swedish tenants in t!le XIIIth century I[


life of Sweden1', which could and certainly did influence the economic condition of the landbors' life. H e approaches his subject of investigation in complete isolation and does not compare his conclusions with data concerning similar problems from other Scandinavian countries and continental Europe.

The above remark does not necessarily mean that Dovring had to come to false conclusions because of the method he applied. For verification of the latter an analysis of the sources he used becomes necessary. Let US now look a bit closer a t the earliest time.

Dovring's endeavour is concentrated on proving that origi~lally the

landbor's rent was very high and that in the XIVth century i t was reduced decisively. Therefore, as far as the XIIIth century is concerned he Is takes the view that although the Ostg6talagen1"

speaks but of four measures of corn which a landbo had to give from one attung t o his landlord, in reality it should also have meant: "and all that which goes together with it", i.e. 4 ore in ready money. This opinion seems, however, to be a t least a premature one. The chapter of the law in question is a very detailed one. I11 its several paragraphs it deals with numerous questions as far as the mutual relation between a landbo and his landlord is concerned. Just for that reason it can hardly be accepted that such an important part of these rela- tions as the height of the rent, should be laid down in such an abbreviated form, which would mean a reducing of the rent's height

of '/3.'O W e have, however, a direct indication in this chapter which

disproves Dovring's presumption totally. The provision under con-

I V t is too easy to enumerate problems which should have been taken into consideration by DOVRING. We cannot, however, refrain from pointing out only one of them, i.e. that of the mutual relationship between the development of agriculture on the one hand and that of commerce and han.dicraft on the other, especially in the period when the latter began to be conceritrated in the towns. Such concentration created a local market: the possibility of selling the agri- cultural products stimulated the development of farming. The last became easier and more effective in turn due to implements bought in towns.

DOVRING, Attungen, p. 1x8 ff.

' W g L BB Q, prol.: . . . I ~ z t z r lagha afrzpe. Fiure bpni korns. zelle tue Era uabmala . . .".


This figure follows from the value of corn, providing it was real in that

time. According to the same


this value was 2 ore. Therefore, according to

DOVRING, the real value of the rent provided for by the law should have been



Stanisiaw Piekarczyk

sideration opens to the landbo a possibility to give an equivalent to the corn-rent in cloth, the value of which is estimated in money.2' I t is very likely that in this connection the money rent should also have been mentioned, if i t really had been provided for by the law. I t is of course a different problem, whether and to what extent this provision of the law was applied in real life.

For calculation of the height of the landbor's rent i t is naturally of great importance to know the size of one attung, alternatively, how many measures were sown on it. I t has been accepted previously that on one attung 12 measures of corn were This figure has

been questioned by Dovring.'We is inclined to think that an attung, which he considers


not without reason - in opposition to the opinion of LonnrothZ4 to be a measure-unit of arable land, in reality was sown in the two-field system only with 6 measures of corn. H e has taken this view not because he had found contemporary sources which indicate that the opinion of his predecessors was wrong, but in order to explain apparent contradictions, namely: his own supposi- tion about the height of the rent in the early Middle Ages", the height of the rent which could be calculated after acceptance of the figure 12 measures of corn sown on an attung "ja, his calculation of

the rent a t the break of modern times and later on


and last but not least his conceptions of the decreasing of rent in the later Middle Ages. Dovring's investigations on that point though very sophisti- cated are not in the least convincing for two important reasons. The first one is of a more general nature. Dovring does not in his book, especially on the above-mentioned point, follow the chief methodo- logical rule of historical research, saying that one is not allowed to build one hypothesis upon another." The other reason consists in the

". . . z l l a t u a ora uaprnala . . .".

?"ef. by E. L ~ N N R O T H , Statsmakt och statsfinans i det medeltida Sverige, Studier over skattevasen och lansforvaltning, Goteborgs Hagskolans Arsskrift,

46, Goteborg 1940, p. 8 2 .


DOVRING, Attungen, p. I I O f f .


LONNROTH, op. cit. p. 84.

D O ~ R I N G , Attungen, p. 1 1 0 .

" 9 This height should be than 113 of the corn sown; see note 19 above and

further in this article, p. Q. DOVRING, Attungen, p. 105 f f .


Social and eco~lomic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XIlIth century I 99

weakness of his interpretation of the meaning of lche word "szpe". As a matter of fact Dovring was not able to give any conclusive evidence indicating that in the early Middle Ages this word coulld have been used in the meaning of "crop" 28, which he presumed. What he really proves is that the rent a t the break of modern times in the provinces, where arable land has been measured in attungar, was really as high as the seed, and that in the XIVth century a decreasing of rent took place. But how great this was, and conse- quently, how high the original rent was, remains uncertain.

His and Hafstrom's research do not give any certain results where those Swedish provinces are concerned, in which the marklandsin- delning has been introduced. Leaving apart for the time being the problem of the origin of this land-division system, let us follow the argument they have used to prove that even in those provinces the seed and the rent were approximately of the sanne value, i.e. of r

ortug ('124 of one mark) for a land-unit called nnarkland. Dovring has based his views on evidence from the XVIth and later centuries, which indicate that in those times the rent was approximately as high as the seed.2g As far as the early Middle Ages are concerned, he really proved that in some cases a certain relation between the rent and the price of one mark of arable land existed." The relation between the height of the rent and the value of the seed a t that time remains, however, ~ n p r o v e d . ~ '

Hafstrom bases his research upon certain provisions of the Dala- lagen, according to which, a piece of land on which a measure of seed (spanna szepi) has been sown, after confiscation could be

weakness of his deliberations and is wording his coi~clusion in a very careful way.

' W e must even admit, see f.ex. p. 1 x 1 , note 85, that m the late Middle Ages

the word "szebe" was translated to Latin as "semen".


DO\VRING, Attungen, p. 32 ff; see also his article, Agrarhistorisk forskning,

P. 401.


OOVRING, Attungen, p. 14 ff.

31 Since it is certain that in the XIIIth century and at the beginning of the

XIVth, as some contemporary sources indicate one mark of arable land was giving approximately one mark rent, it can be taken for granted that it was the rent which contributed to the origin of marklandsindelning; see also. Sko klosters medeltida jordebocker, med kommentarer, utgivna av A. PLETRE, Skrifter utgivna av Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund, No. 42, Lund 1953, p. 25, Note to line 17 and ff.


Z Q O Stanistaw Piekarczyk

bought back for one mark." Other provisions of the Dalalagen 33 and of the Vastmannalagen 3%llow him to come to the conclusion that the same measure of corn had a value of I ortug. So, according

to him, a markland was a piece of land on which was sown corn to the value of I ortug. This value should have become in the second plan the height of the rent." If and how this process should have occurred the author does not show.

As a matter of fact there is a certain interruption in the argumen- tation of both the authors: the first one could only prove the existence of a certain relation between the height of rent given from the land divided in marks in the XVth and the XVIth centuries and the value of seed, while the other could only establish a theoretical, or juridical, relation between the price of land and the value of the seed necessary to be sown on it.

I t is not accidental that both authors did not succeed in providing

indisputable evidence for their opinions. As far as the early Middle Ages are concerned, the XIIIth and earlier centuries, such a relation between the value of seed and that of the rent, that both should have been equal, could exist only in very few exceptional cases. I t was, however, impossible as a norm which was applicable in reality 10s the establishing of the height of the rent, if we take into account the possibly existing standard of agricultural technique and the pro- ductivity of arable land. I t must be presumed that the productivity in Sweden in the early Middle Ages under climatic conditions there prevailing could not be much greater than 2 times the seed's vo- l~me.~"his refers only to the land of the villages being under con- stant cultivation (inmarken). There are, however, no contemporary sources from this country, which could prove the above said rate. As far as England is concerned, a country that was in those times far

3"L RB 5.

33 DL RB 45, § 5

3"mL BB 25.

35 HAFSTROM, op. cit. p. 196.

3 " o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ , Attungen, p. 66, accepts for the XIVth century a crop of six times the seed. He has based his view upon one piece of evidence from the begin- ning of the XVIth century, ibid. p. 54, and did not verify it with other sources. As far as e.g. Norway is concerned for the XVIth century only a crop of three times the seed's volume has been accepted. That seems to be more realistic. Sec, A STEINNES, IZ)konomisk og administrative historie, Romerike, I, Norske bygder, IIIB., Bergen 1932, p. 100.


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants irz the XIIIth century 20 :c

more advanced in agricuPtural development, indisputable evidence shows that even in the XIVth century the crop was only three times the seed.37 For Poland which had apparently a more developed agriculture than Sweden


the volume of the crop has been establish- ed as somewhat more than 2 times the volume of the seed.39

The following table illustrates what it would have meant for a landbo if he really had to give to the landlord a rent as great as the seed necessary to be sown on the land he cuitivated. To simplify it we have taken the figure I O O [in any units) for the rent and the

seed. In the table besides the rent and corn reserve for the next seed-time, only the tithe has been taken into account.

The first table shows that with a crop of 2.5 times the volume of the seed, i.e. higher than could be accepted for the time under con- sideration, a landbo after giving his rent and tithe and leaving a


See f. ex. J. S. DREW, Manorial account of St. Swithun's Priory, Winchester, The English Historical Review, vol. 62, London 1949, p. 32. The author deaZs with sources from the XIIIth and XIVth centuries, which show that reeves and bailiffs in ecclesiastical manors had a "responsio" for the corn they had to de- liver to the priory. From the middle of the XIVth century this "responsio" was settled according to the expected crop. The "responsio" was calculated as 3-4 times the seed. As it is known WALTER HENLEY declared a three-times crop as being normal in his times; WALTER O F HENLEY'S Husbandry together with an anonymous Husbandry, Seneschaucie and Robert Crosseteste's rules .


., by

E. LAMOND . . . with an introduction by W. C. CUNNINGHAM, London 1890, p. 19. It happened often that the real crop did not even reach the figure, forseen in Henley's Husbandry; G. G . COULTON, The medieval village, Cambridge 1926,

p. 21 j, note No. I .


It is hardly possible that a primitive fertilizing of fields by cattle-grazicg on them after harvest, as known from the provinciel laws, could improve the productivity of land very much. The productivity in England was achieved with the use of better implements and better manuring; see, Husbandry . . ., p. 21 ff;

as far as the implements known in Sweden in Middle Ages are concerned, it was even necessary to plough the fields in double directions (along and scross the fields] because the plough Carder) just cut the ground but did not turn it over. Such ploughing is mentioned in the OgL, BB 9, 6: ". . . e r i a u t at okre ok ])u2eru iuir annan

. .

.". See, S. ERIXON, Lantbruket undrr historisk tid med

sarskild hansyn till bondetraditioner, Nordisk Kultur, vol. r 3, 1956, p. I I I ff,

133 ff.

3Wistoria Polski t. I, do roku 1764 cz. I do polowy XV W . pod redakcja H. LOWMIA~~SKIEGO, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Historii, Panstwowe Wy-


2 0 2 Stanisiaw Piekarczyk

reserve of corn for seed would have left only s o O i o of the crop he

had harvested for his own use. Taking a more real relation between crop and seed volume, that is some 2 of the volume of the seed he

should not only have nothing left for himself, but - practically speaking - he would be in want of zo % corn for seed. The '0' vo-

lume is reached in the table with the crop rate of 2.225. W e must not forget that he had to give to his landlord a "gift" every sixth or eighth year


and that he had also some public burdens.

The argumentation presented is but of negative nature. As far

Crop's rate

X times

the seed

as the XIIIth century is concerned i t is not possible to have much positive evidence as to the rate of the landbors' rent. Still some Figures, though also very uncertain, can be calculated.

In the document, issued by Lars, the bishop of Linkoping, in the









- 65


- value, imposs~ble

height ""P



The tithe

years 1233-1247 are mentioned two attungar, which he had ex- changed for a meadow." From the latter he had received a rent of

M mark. If his transaction was equivalent", one attung should

have brought him a rent of I/i mark i.e. s ore, exactly the figure which has been provided for in the Ostgiitalagen.

The two attungar, mentioned by Kristin, the daughter of Faster, in her letter in the village of Litla Hagaby gave yearly 1 2 measures of corn and 16 ortugar, and one attung in the village of Reby 7

measures of corn and 8 ~rtugar.~"n both cases the difference



OgL BB Q, prol.; UL JB 10; VmL JB IS, prol.; SdmL JB 10, prol.

41 DS I NO. 282: ".

. .

duos [scl. - octonarios) comparauirnus jn villa que

nominatur Lund & in precio reddidimus rus quondam ecclesie, quod annuatim persoluit dimidiam marcham nummorum".


A t his

b ~ ~ ~


~disposal ~ ~ ~ t a l

@ T h i s is very likely, because ecclesiastical institutions took part in it. DS I No. 855: ".


. Item duos attungos in litla Hagaby que annuatim soluunt XVI solidos denariorum, & XI1 thynones annone. . . . Item vnum attungum in reby


. . qui annuatim soluit VIII thynones 8 V111 solidos . . .".


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XTIIth century 2 0 3

between the volume of rent, provided for by the law and that really paid is striking. If we take i t that the attung remained unchanged, which in that case is, however, not very certain, we can draw up a table showing how great was the corn-rent alone a landbo had to give from one attung in the village of Litla Hagaby in relation to his approximate crop.

A similar table for the village of Reby would ~liaturally have the figures higher for 117.

The data in the above table do not differ very much from the evidence from the XIVth century concerning some farms owned by the church, where the rent, according to Dovring41 should have amounted to "tertiam partem fructum", especially if we take i t as possible that on the church's lands the tithe could be accumulated with rent and that her estates could be exempted from taxes. In such a case we would have a rent+tithe volume of 32.2 010 For a production of 2.25 times the seed, the money-rent not being in-

cluded. After addition of the latter the landbor's real burden be- comes even higher.

The height of the landbor's burdens was calculated in proportion to the productivity of those parts of their farms, which were situated in the villages themselves (inmarken). One can however presume that the landbor were using the common land of the villages (allmiin- ning) : pastures, meadows and forests for cattle-and-pig-breeding and for eventual corn-growing by the way of burning and clearing out parts of the woods. I t is impossible to establish exactly, what importance the last mentioned production could have had in land-

Crop's rate Crop Tithe


For landbo's



X times


height in







disposal %

the seed measures measures 1


DOVRING, Attungen, p. 41 f, 64 ff. The author is of the opinion that such

a rate was a rather exceptional one. It is not clear, why such an "exception" should have differed from the normal height so much.

Remarks 1.5








- 1.8




- volume impossible 1.75






































9 0 4 Stanislaw Piekarczyk

bor's housekeeping. Most likely, however, their income gained from such production was not too great." Landbor as such had no rights themselves t o use the common land of the villages, but only as tenants of the farms, belonging t o the landlords." If landbor's pro- duction from the fields derived from the forests had been really great, they should certainly have been obliged to give a rent from it. Cattlebreeding, as already established "', very extensive and primi-

tive even in the later Middle Ages, could of course help the landbor in years of failing crops, but this could hardly improve their standard of living decisively.

Thus, although we cannot accept Dovring's figures we are entitled to interpret the few existing sources in the way of concluding that the eco~lomic situation of the Swedish landbor was difficult in the XIIIth century. There is no evidence which is contradictory to such an opinion. W e can even understand, why a landbo was not always able to give his rent, as the provisions of the provincial laws, we mentioned above, i n d i ~ a t e . ~ ~

The above remarks make possible for us a new, perhaps more realistic approach to the problem of the social situatioil of the Swedish landbor in the early Middle Ages, and to the question, whether and in what sense they can be regarded as free persons.

The basis for the opinion about the social status of landbor is the fact that the mutual relations between the Iandbor and their land- lords was based upon a temporary agreement. The other factor which has contributed to form this opinion of the social situation of landbor was the limitation of the landlords' jurisdiction over them.

Let us analyse both these problems.

4 5 O n such fields productivity was


as it is known - higher. Still one has

sown there more thinly. Even in the XIXth century in some parts of Russia, where such a technique was used, 800 kg rye from one hectare was harvested. See

H. L O W M I A ~ S K I , Podstawy gospodarcze formowania si? pahstw slowiadskich, Warszawa 1953, p. 138 ff, where the problem mentioned here has been thoroughly discussed.

46 As it is known, only such inhabitants of a village who had a minimum of

its cultivated land (inmarken), had the right t o use the allmaimning.


See f. ex. E. F. HECKSCHER, An economic history of Sweden . .


Cambridge, Massachusetts 1954, p. 22 f.


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in t h e XIIith century 2 0



temporary agreement between landlords ancl their tenants is nothing particulary rare in the Middle Ages and is quite well known for example from Polish history. The social and economic character of such an agreement depended upon the situation in the given country. On the one hand i t facilitated the tenants leaving the farms they rented after i t had expired, on the other hand, however, by the virtue of its temporary delimitation the tenants' rights to the rented farm were restricted to temporary holding only, and they could be expelled when such a lease had expired.

This character, or a t least its understanding by the landlords becomes evident in the case of alienation of the rented land.

All the Swedish provincial laws provide information in this im- portant matter: alienation of land, cultivated by an landbo did not change the relationship of the latter to this land. In no case could such an alienation have been considered by the landbo as a reason for dissolution of the agreement made with the former landowner. The Viistgotalagen contains but very little information on this point. The law of succession from that province, however, deals with a case, when a woman after the death of her husband moved t o her farm, previously rented by a l a n d b ~ . ~ ~ In such a case the landbo was entitled to prove his right t o remain on this farm for one year, but not longer. However, in the case of his landlord's death a landbo could not leave the farm he rented until his lease had expired.5o Successors could move him out after returning to him the remaining part of the gift he had given to the previous l a n d l ~ r d . ~ ~ In the case of the landbo's death the landlord could turn away his family froin the farm, giving t o i t only the value of the seed, if i t had been sown. The last provision very distinctly favours the landlord, rendering i t possible for him to evict the landbo's family, probably unable t o work on the farm.

The Ostgotalagen5' contains provision, whicl-L was introduced into the laws of central Sweden5" according to which persons in- heriting after a landbo, also inherited the farm he rented until his

AB 18, prol. VgL I1 AB 25.

jc VgL AB 24, I : "Dor lanzdrotten 1)a skal landboe kuar sitia til fa2st~e

hans 2er int . . .". VgL I1 AB 34.

VgL AB 24, I :

". . .

z l l z r arv2e lukze hanum til g2ef sinz". VgL II AB 34.

5 W g L BB 9, 4: "Nu dor antuiggia 112e sum gift gaf. 2ellas pzen sum giuit uar.

Pa aepruit sua gift bol sum fzdrini sit".


206 Stanislaw Piekarczyk

lease had expired. The introduction of such a provision was connect- ed with a tendency to stabilize the condition of the landbor. The said tendency was evident behind other provisions of the laws giving priority to the old landbo in taking a new lease.;'

Ostgotalagen deals also with questions resulting from alienation of the land rented by a landbo. Such an alienation did not change his relation to this land. H e could not be released from his duties because the person of his landlord had changed. This law deals rather with the question which arose tvhen the new landowner wanted to move the old landbo out, facilitating the retaining of the farm for him for a certain time.j5

Similar provisions are to be found in the other Swedish provincial laws. According to these, alienation of land could in no case have meant a dissolution of landbo's agreement. The provisions under consideration deal rather with eventual expulsion of the landbor.jG

Our understanding of what the above provisions in reality could have meant, depends upon our approach to the early mediaeval juridical memorials. W e are not allowed to modernize their provi- sions, though the latter might very well be worded in a form similar to that used in modern legislation. To avoid such modernization we shall find contemporary sources which express opinions on the meaning of such provisions in the respective time. Fortunately we have some documents, which indicate that, according a t least to the landowners, the land could be alienated with the landbo. In some documents the landbor are said t o belong to "pertinentiis" of the estates in question, and they are enumerated besides meadows, water-mills, forests and similar as an object of alienation.

This was the case when Ulfrid, the daughter of Birger, donated estates in Hultakil to the monastery a t Vreta.j7 Similary the dona-

54 OgL BB g,


4: ".


. nu giuzer annan til: Pe kallar undi g i ~ f " . UL JB 13,

2; SdmL JB 11, 5 3 - similar provisions.

j q e e


HOLMBACK, & E. WESSBN, CjgL note No. 88, p. 237 f.

5Vrovisions concerning this question differ evidently in various provincial laws. UL JB 5, prol., when discussing the possibility of expulsion of landbo stresses: "jllt ;er wip eghandsen delze", see also in the same connection UL JB 13,


3? while SdmL JB 10, prol. says: ". . . wharghin perae wald fore andrurn

rywae. vtan egkandin kunni til praengiae siaelwen a boa".

j7 D§ I No. 500: ". . . videlicet Hultakyl cum tribus colonis, et ceterijs alijs


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XiIIth century 207

tion-letter of Birger Jar1 of the year 1266 in favour of the monastery a t Eskilstuna counts to the "attinenciis" of "curiae" a t Carleby also l a n d b ~ r . ~ ~ In the year 1275 the king Magnus Ladulds donated a "mansio" to the monastery a t Sko with among others l a n d b o ~ - . ~ ~


exchange of estates made by the bishop Brynalf frorn Skara with Nils Algost included also landbor." The canon frorn Uppsala, KarI Erlandsson in his last will of the year 1296 leased his estates a t Hylmaeryth together with all his landbor in order to pay his father's, uncle's and his own debts.F1 Margareth Gostavsdotter donated her "curiam" a t Norby and one landbo a t Ysaacsgerde, three landbor from the forest, called Bataskogh, and ten 6re arable land in Sindra- stadh and two landbor to keep some priests.62

The above examples provide evidence that in some cases the landbor are said in documents to be alienated together with the land. This is a natural phenomei~on in the early Middle Ages: empty land, without men who could cultivate i t was but of small value for a great landownerG" especially in the times when i t was not very easy for him t o provide his farms or newly colonised land with new people who could work and give a rent to Every great


j8 DS I No. 518: ".

. .

curiam nostram Carleby . . . cum omnibus attinenciis

suis tam ~nobilibus quam immobilibus, videlicet colonis et agris, pratis, siluis &

molendinis . . .".

5R DS I NO. 599: ". . . mansionem Norusaer, ad claustrum dominorum in

Sco .

. .

contulisse, cum siluis, piscariis, incolis et attinentiis ejusdem mansionis universis

. . .".

DS I1 No. 984: ". . . curiam nostram jaedarydh, cum agris pratis siluis piscariis, molendino, colonis & ceteris aliis pertinenciis".

6 1 DS I1 No. 1167: ". . . deputo & et obligo hyalmerydh, in widboo & molen-

dinum & omnes colonos meos ibidem . . .".

DS I1 NO. 1291: ". . . curiam meam in Norby in Nericia . . . in ysaacsgerde vnum colonum in silua wlgariter dicta b~taskogh tres coloncNs

. . .

In sindhrastadh decem oras terre, e t duos colones . .


Here landbor were alienated even without land.

O T h e Swedish kings - as it is known - claimed even the "nobody's land" (allmanning) in the southern part of their country and forced everybody who settled there to become their landbo.

G% document issued by Bengt, the bishop of Skara in the year 1262 provides

an interesting example of the church's desire to increase the number of people working on her farms by taking into her protection "tenues e t exiles". In the case the bishop was dealing with, a reorganisation of ecclesiastical estates was even necessary to find place for those "exiles". DS I KO. 474.



Stanistaw Piekarczyk

landlord wanted to have his income as much stabilized as possible. Thus we mentioned a problem which has been so much discussed in Swedish historical science, i.e. that of the social and economic causes for the introduction of the marklandsindelning.

There are two general lines of solving this question. The first one is represented by the recent research, made by Lonnroth, who is of the opinion that the marklandsindelning originally formed a basis for fixation of taxes, and as such has been introduced in the second half of the XIIIth This opinion has been criticized already GG

and i t is not necessary t o come back to i t once more. According to Bovring's opinion i t was the fixed rent, which caused the origin of the marklandsindelning.6' Hafstrijm took still another point and came t o the conclusion that originally i t was not the land, which was donated to the church, b u t a constant, perpetual rent. Such dona- tions should have been, according to him, the real cause of the origin of the said land-division." H e has based his argumentation upon an interpretation of Latin documents 69 and of one provision

of the Upplandslagen ' O and of the Vastmannalagen 'l, which inter-

pretations are very doubtful. Thus i t is impossible for us to accept his views. W e must also ask the question: how was i t possible that a rent could become an object of alienation, if this rent had not

65 LONNROTH, op. cit. p. 91 ff, 107 f.

66 Se f. ex. DOVRING, Agrarhistorisk forskning, p. 388 ff, ANDRE, op. cit.

p. 118.

67 DOVRING, Attungen, p. 26 ff, 66.

HAFSTROM, op. cit. p. 210 ff.

From those documents, which HAFSTROM quoted and commented on, the two last ones are out of question that it was the land which was donated and not the rent: D§ I No. 377 reads: "terram de qua dimidia marcha . . . soluitur". The author refers in note I , p. 214 to HOLMBACK'S & W E S S ~ N ' S remark to SdmL, S. 97.

They, however, do not give the necessary evidence that it was the rent which has been donated. DS I No. 531 both in the Latin and in the Swedish version make the land an object of donation: ". . . medietatem mansionis . . . cum aliis prediis .


.", "een halffwan gardh . . . med androm goodzom

. . .".

Still another document, HAFSTROM is referring to, DS I No. 282, already quoted above, see note No. 41, speaks only about attungar and not about markland. We shall come to the other documents, referred to by HAFSTROM in the note No. 7 3 .

7 W L KkB 14,


3; this speaks about the church's freedom of disposal of all her property, among others, also of money, which she has from rents, received from land bought by her or donated to her. The provision in question does not make the rent an object of donation: "Allt Pizt kirkiu giwit w z r p z r .


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XIIIth century


been previously exactly defined in money-equivalent? "a I t is there- fore evident that a stabilization of landbors' rents, a stabilization of their relation t o rented lands was an inevitable premise for the introduction of the rnarklandsindelning.

I t even seems to be clear why the rnarklandsindelni~lg occurs originally in documents relating t o ecclesiastical estates. I t was the church which, as a rule, had the best organised e~onorny.~"n her estates the social and economic changes leading tovrards stabilization of the tenants' relation t o the lands they rented, were quickest.'" It is also natural t h a t in Sweden just in those laws which were

hwat ~r iord ~ l l r IosBrae. swa ok affraep hannaer ba sum hun aff iorpum sinum far. hwat haenni giwit w ~ r b s e r , aellr hun mazb tyundl sinni kopir. swa ok all= tyund sin= baer a kirkiae sik maep skrypae. ok bazr rna aencti annaet azff gioraes utaen samu kirkiu tii parfwae". From the grammatical point of view it is clear that "her rent" (affraeb haznnaer) refers to the following words: "that, which she receives from her land" (be sum hun aff iorpurn sinum far). This land, but not the Tents, as HAFSTROM is interpreting, can be given to her, or she can buy them for her tithe (hwat b z t haenni giwit waerbrer. sellr hun mac@ tyund sinni kopir). It is very likely that here we meet the same phenomenon, which is well known from continental Europe: the land could be given to the church, the rent, however, was reserved for the donator. And it is therefore the provision under consideration which stresses in one sentence the church's freedom of disposal of all her property for her own use only.

VmL KkB 13,


3 .

71a As we have shown above, HAFSTROMS supposition th~at it was the seed's value, which primarily decided the size of one markland, cannot be accepted.

' T h i s does not naturally mean that such stabilization has been performed a t the same time even in estates belonging to one ecclesiastical unit or organisation. As DOVRING observed, even in the XIVth century there were some ecclesiastical estates, which in documents have been mentioned as being "sub curiis", though in practice they were rented out t o landbor, Agrarhistorisk forskning, p. 389. Ecclesiastical land which was under direct administration of the church could have been said to be her "curiae" or "villae". If, however, they were leased, the documents concerned could have called them "redditus" or marks. One can suppose that the difference in terminology of documents could be caused not by the difference between the rights, which the church had to her land, but

between the method of exploitation of them. As far as the much discussed period of the introduction of the marklandsindelning is concerned a more fre- quent appearance of lands divided into marks from the second half of the XIIIth century onwards may be due to the more frequent introduction of such exploita- tion system a t that time.


210 Stanisfaw Piekarczyk

written under the greatest influence of the ecclesiastical hierarchy the landbors' rights were a t their weakest.

The above remarks allow us to come to the conclusion that even in those dosuments in which i t is not clearly said that the landbo was alienated with the land, but where he is however mentioned, in fact he could also be considered by the landowner as an object of a l i e n a t i ~ n . ' ~

As said above, an agreement between landlord and landbo had but a temporary character. This had surely several, possibly even con- tradictory reasons. W e can clarify them when studying the difference occurring in the possibility of dissolving such an agreement as provid- ed for in the Ggtaland and Svealand laws.

Vastgotalagen is too laconic to give us the information required. Ostgotalagen, however, contains sufficient evidence for us to come to the conclusion that a premature dissolution of the agreement on the part of the landbo was connected with relatively great financial loss for the latter. Pn such a case he would lose the whole value of the gift he had given to his landlord. In the case when a landbo demanded that one part of the gift's value be returned to him, but could not prove that he was leaving the farm in accordance with the agreement, he lost not only the value of that gift, but had even to pay a fine, evaluating it.75 Practically speaking i t could be hard for a poor landbo to leave his landlord, though t h e Ostgotalagen did not prevent him from doing so.

The laws of central Sweden, Svealand, restrict this possibility even more. According to the Upplandslagen and the other laws76 the landbo of course lost his gift when leaving the farm during the term of his lease. Besides he even had to pay his rent for the year to come and inform the landlord about his desire in the presence of wit- n e ~ s e s . ~ ~ When he declared his desire to leave the farm not in

tributed to the introduction of the marklandsindelning in Sweden, such as e.g. the development of the testamentary rights. Those, by all means, being of

secondary importance, are beyond the scope of this paper.

74 TO such belong f . ex.: DS I No. 500, 592, 615, 712.

75 OgL BB I :

". .

ba uiti maeb e l ~ e a t han haftje bol til staemnu daghxs.

orkar han egh ebe. Pa lati a t z r sum bol h a u e r oint . . .".

76 UL JB 12, prol.; VmE JB 15, 4.

77 UL JB 12, prol.: "Pa skal han eghandae til sighiae um r e t t a n affraz dagh

fore grannum. ok I~iilgi by n e s t e r

. . .

ok gieldi affraep p a t arit han sait hawer

. .



Social and ecollomic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XIIIth century 2 p p

due time, his financial responsibility became greater.'$ Vastmanna- lagen restricts the landbo's freedom even more by introducing a provision, according to which he was obliged to hold his farm until the elapse of the lease. If, however, he wanted to leave during the term of the lease, he had to provide another laridbo in his place and the landowner should have accepted the latter.7g SSdermanna- lagen has similar pro~isions.~"

The said provisions show clearly that i t was the intention of those who have written the laws to restrict the landbors' possibility of moving from the farm. If we take into consideration that landbor were in rather a difficult economic situation, we do not exag- gerate when concluding that in practice it could hardly be possible for them to move except once every sixth or eighth year. Their freedom was therefore very limited.

It is difficult t o find what was the reason wrhy the period of agreement was set to just such a number of years. I t is, however, very likely that some agricultural reasons must lhave played their role here: a definite number of production-cycles in the twofield system.

Landowners had a greater possibility to evict their landbors. The Ostgotalagen has in this connection provisions that the landbo should be notified in due time (before Christmas) and be given back the respective part of the gift he had previously given to the land- owner.81 Similar possibilities are provided for in other provincial Iaws.@ In the Upplandslagen there is even a general rule, according to which the landbo was never entitled to remain on the farm any longer then the landowner allowed him to do so, if he had been refused in a legal way.$"

". . . Nu sighaer han sipaer maet ataer a n r a t t u m affrazdagh bo warpi Iandboen eghandonum fullt affral, aff by ari ok allt p a t p ~ r a utgioraes af ],e iorb til olaffs masu


. .".

VmL JB 15, 4: "Takar han iorP m z b giftan. af bere ior]) skal han oppe hallda afrabom til bolagstamno. aellser annan aboa fore sic fa. aefte iorbaghande wilia".

SdmL JB 15,





I : "NU uill land drottin han a bole bort uraka. Ba skal han til

fara firi iul ok hzlga afton. gifta fulnap hanum i garb fora


. .". JB s,prol., JB 13, 3. VmL JB 15, 3. SdmL JB 10, prol.

PL JB 11, I :

". . .

hawi landboe encti wald ad halde iorl, l a n g e r aen


2 1 2 Stanisiaw Piekarczyk

W e can conclude t h a t the landbors' freedom was very limited and the fact t h a t he had his farm on terms of a temporary holding could be and certainly was used by the landowners to strengthen their position. In other words: the lease contained elements which could be used as means of compulsion for the landlords.

To study this it is necessary to find the social basis of the landbo- class. I t has been pointed out that the landbor were recruited from two different social groups, that of the poor bonder who were forced either t o mortgage their farms and thereafter had no means t o buy them again, or to sell them; and t h a t of the liberated thrall^.^^

There are some indications in the provincial laws, showing how the above process was occurring.

I t is clear t h a t provisions of all the provincial laws consider the selling or mortgaging of land as an act caused by extreme necessity, such as f a r ~ $ n e . ~ ~ According e. g. to the Ostgatalagen a husband was obliged in an emergency to sell his own land first, and only when hunger continued, was he also entitled t o sell his wife's land.8" The Upplandslagen contains provision dealing with mortgaging of land. I t mentions the lack of corn for seed or for food as the chief reason pressing a bonde to sell his property.s7

Mortgaging and selling of land caused not only pauperization of those who were pressed t o it, but also their social degrada- tion: the poor and poorest bonder became landbor. Provincial laws contain provisions concerning cases in which both parts claimed the land in question to be hereditarily owned by each of them, when only one insisted that he and his predecessors received gift and rent from the land in question." Other provisions deal with cases when a person who had bought some land wanted to cultivate

84 N. ODEEN, Studier i Smilands bebyggelse historia, ett bidrag till svensk

ortnamnsforskning, NOB, vol. 15-17, C : 1-5, Eund 1997-31, p. 380; G. HASSEL- BERG, Den S. k. Skarastadgan och traldomens upphorande i Sverige, Vastergot- lands fornminnes foreningens tidskrift 5, 1944, p. 65 ff; DOVRING, Agrarhistorisk forskning, p. 389.

See DS I1 No. 1032, dated 1291, consisting of a list of debtors of Uppsala Cathedral. Most of them has lent some money "pro annona".

OgL GmB 14, I:

". . .

nu ha1dat.r at.n hungzr a ba skal hznne omynd s d i a .



UL JB Q, prol.: " S z t e r man iorl) fore korn . . . hwat h z e l d ~ r han t a k z r b e t til sasep d l r fob0

. .



Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in the XIIlth century 2 1


it. The formulation used there indicates that just the opposite was more frequent: bonde who had sold his land became l a n d b ~ . ~ ~

The well-known fact that the land of the great landowners, was spread over a large territory, often in several provinces, indicates that the process of expropriation of poor bonder was under way already in the period under consideration.

I t is natural that the landlords who were just on their way to enlarge their landownership by way of expropriation from bonder were interested in limiting the rights of their landbor to farms to temporary holdings: one part of those landbor consisted of bonder, who had newly been expropriated possibly directly by them.9o Prsvisiotls, quoted above


confirm our sup posit is^^.

Nevertheless there were other factors which added to their wish to extend the duration of agreement to some years, besides possible agricultural reasons. The right to leave the farm while the agreement lasted was more restricted in -the central Swedish provinces. I t wzs in the interest of landowners to keep their landbor on their farms for a t least some years and to prevent them from settling in newly colonized regions, where they could become independent bonder. The liberation of thralls which was on its way in XIHIth century Sweden possibly contributed also to the forming of the social situation of landbor. I t must be taken for granted that only a small part of liberated thralls became free in f a ~ t . ~ W t h e r s were transformed into half-free workers (legodrangar]. A still greater part of them became landbor or perhaps in the second generation approached their social condition. W e have not much evidence to demonstrate how this process was happening. The Swedish pro-

sighzer fabur fore sik a t hawze. allr andrze frendaer eghandin s i g h ~ r sitt w e r e forut ok gamalt


. .". See also SdmL JB I .

UL JB 5. Just after the sentence declaring that the new landowner has to pay for eventual ploughing of the fields, and the interjected: "jllt E r wib eghanden del=" follows: ".


. E r gipt o annaeb, gizeldi han gifft a t e r sum tok

. . .".

The last formulation indicates that the former owner became landbo because of the "gipt" (see note 40) it mentions.

Comp. A. J. GUREVIC, Nekotorye spornye voprosy social'no-ekonomi?eskogo razvitija srednevekovoj Norvegii, Voprosy Istorii No. 2, Moskva r959, p. 12off.

91 See notes 88, 89.

gVt is very characteristic that the relatives who were buying another one, being thrall, had to swear an oath that: ". . . uir losin han til kyns ok kundra manna ok egh til annopunx doms


. .", OgL AB aq.


2 1 4 Stanislaw Piekarczyk

vincial laws are not the kind of sources that give evidence of mass- thralldom g3 and consequently of mass release-action. W e have, however, one provision in the Ostgotalagen, which presumably provides us with some relevant information. In the chapter of this law dealing with all sorts of cases concerning landbor, there is a separate paragraph discussing the problem of men who were rooting out a strictly defined part of forestg4 Such men were obliged to remain in the forest until their job had been performed. Otherwise, if they escaped, they lost all their property." I t is very likely that they were the released thralls who could be pressed to do such hard and ineffective work as clearing out a forest. Their economic situa- tion even after accomplishing that work must have been very hard, if they took the risk of escaping and losing all property. Such rooting out, as i t is well known, led to the establishment of very small and poor farms, the cultivators of which were clearly in a dependent position towards


33 Even such provisions as VgL TjB IQ; VgL I1 TjB 54 and OgL KmB I,

which deal with the procedure of selling thralls do not refer to a mass-trade. Witnesses taking part in such an act, responsibility of former owners for crimes committed by the thrall, they have sold, cannot refer to a mass-trade.

9 W g L BB Q, 7: "Nu takaer man oxa mala ok laeggia undi ara stzmmu; inne up mala sin ok vil sipan af fara: han a fulnab firi hus ok garda sina haua: Nu far han a fiir: pa hauaer firi farit arvbe sinu: aghe sua huar i husum sum han atte i bole sua ok i garbum". The interpretation given above differs from that of HOLMBACK & WESSEN. They understood the words: "oxa mala" as "agreement 01-1

the reward for rooting out" (Ion for yxa). Such a "reward", according t o the editors, see their note 89, p. 238, should have con sisted of three years rent-free farming. Our interpretation of the words in question runs: "strictly defined part of forest". See ODEEN, op. cit. p. 367 ff. HOLMBACK & WESSEN in translation of

this do not take into account the very well known meaning of the word "inne", which always points out a compulsion, and even physical force. This is why we cannot agree with the editors' translation of the words: "inne up mala sin" as: "he avails himself of his reward" (han tjanar in hela sin lon), which gives the whole quite different meaning.

The decisive argument against the translation of the provision, given by HOLMBACK & WESSEN consists in the fact that it does not make clear, why it should have been in the interests of the landowners not to allow such men to go under duration of their reward, providing "inne up mala sin" should really have meant such reward.

96 ODEEN, op. cit. p. 367 ff. It is very likely that UL KkB 7, a reflects a similar

process to that discussed above. This deals with the form of giving the tithe by half-free workers [legodrangar), who had rented a piece of land.


Social and economic situation of the Swedish tenants in the :XIIith century 2 q


Since one part of the landbor were recruited from the released thralls and were obliged to give a rent to their landlords, because they had no land for cultivation, i t is most likely that the latter just for this reason could not allow any strengthening of their rights to the land.

I t is nevertheless clear that we can observe a distinct disgropor-

tion between the development of the economic and the juridical pressure over landbor. The same person, who had but very limited freedom of leaving his rented farm, was considered as subject t o law.


landbo could - if only in theory - accuse his landlord in the court (ting] and could be a witness there.

The real cause of this disproportion in the development of the landowners' jurisdiction over landbor is to be found in the character of the social and economic changes of Swedislh society in the XIPIth century, i.e. in the period of constant progress g8 in the

number of landbor. The landbor increased in number in the period of development of internal colonization of Sweden. Such internal colonization was, as a rule, characterized in the whole of Europe not only by the enlargement of land under cultivation, but also by the transfer of the responsibility for farming to the iinmediate cultiva- tors. Usually this was connected with an improvement of the economic and social situation of the last mentioned. In Sweden this process took the form of liberation of t l ~ r a l l s . ~ ~

The landowners in Sweden had contradictory interests: they were pressed to improve the situation, even t o give personal freedom to the lowest ranks of society; they aimed a t maintaining the landbor in the old agricultural regions; and simultaneously were in want of new men for the colonization. Consequently too sharp forms of personal dependency [livegenskap] could not have been developed in the time under consideration.

W e have also to search for the reasons of the underdevelopment of landlords' jurisdiction over Iandbor in the political situation of

ANDRE, op. cit. p. 101 f., pointed out that the great llandowners were not

obliged to take part in such a court.


It is of course impossible to know, how great it could be in any absolute

or relative figures.

DOVRING, Agrarhistorisk forskning, p. 389. The improvement of the eco- nomic situation of those liberated thralls who became landbor could consist only in strict fixation of their duties to their landlords.


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